Holland Circular Hotspot: Inspiring and inspired by circular entrepreneurs

Back in 2016, the Netherlands set the goal to be 50% circular by 2030 and fully circular by 2050. This plan was the proof of a serious commitment to the Paris Agreement and became an example to follow for countries around the world. While impressive on paper, this commitment required serious changes from both public and private institutions when it came to business development in the Netherlands. One of the key strategies was to support Dutch-based and international initiatives, with the goal of reshaping the linear into a circular economy within multiple industries. Holland Circular Hotspot (HCH) would be one of the Dutch heroes to make it happen. 

A circular success starting a movement across Europe

Holland Circular Hotspot was founded at a time where the circular economy was starting to sound more than just a funny idealistic concept in the ears of governments and corporations. The Netherlands already had a considerable advantage when it came to sustainable collaboration and innovation; the idea was to utilize this purpose-focused business culture and transform the Netherlands into a European and international circular hotspot.

HCH’s first big event set the tone for their future success. The event gathered over 500 participants and a panel of international experts inviting people to collaborate on circular projects. Let’s just say this call to action worked out pretty well. Over 200 matches were made during the event, proving that platforms like HCH could be the starting point for incredible work. The event also inspired other countries to look into the feasibility of circular platforms, which gave rise to collaborations between HCH and other circular institutions from Luxembourg, Slovenia, and Norway, while inspiring new projects like Nordic Circular Hotspot

From old school competition to collaboration

One of the key messages of these organizations is that no circular project can work in a vacuum. It is not just different platforms that need to share their network, it is also governments and industries that need to stop looking at competition and growth as the Holy Grail of business development. While competition is an essential part of a healthy economy, more attention should be paid to open innovation and impactful business creation. For Freek van Eijk, the current director of HCH, new coalitions are as much an essential part of circularity as others like social inclusiveness, biodiversity preservation or renewable energy production. In this way, HCH aims to show that a collaborative strategy can still be highly beneficial (and profitable) in countless industries.

Since its creation in 2018, HCH has developed an incredible network of local and international actors sharing their knowledge, experience, and resources to entrepreneurs with circular innovative ideas. Among these collaborators, we can find CIRCO which helps businesses (re)design their products and business models, Ecopreneur which advocates in Brussels for regulatory changes in line with Europe’s sustainable agenda, or Sitra which organizes events like the WCEF and finance multiple circular projects. HCH aims to collaborate with institutions acting on multiple levels, from niche industries to global regulatory structures. As the circular economy is not limited to consumer products, the hotspot offers its expertise and network to people who want to have an impact at B2C, B2B, and governmental levels.

HCH’s massive network is its most powerful asset.
HCH’s massive network is its most powerful asset.
“Working together, we can be so much more effective
Freek van Eijk, Director of HCH
Circular Stories produced video content for the HCH website and some of the events they took part in.
Circular Stories produced video content for the HCH website and some of the events they took part in.

Communicating about their 5 current objectives

Circular Stories worked with HCH on the communication of the hotspot’s agenda, based on the strategy cited above. A series of videos introducing the topics that were discussed at global events like the WCEF+Climate were produced. Multiple current initiatives and business opportunities around the world were presented to audiences of entrepreneurs looking for business insights, introducing challenges in 5 different topics: plastics, construction, textile, manufacturing, and biomass/food. The idea behind the videos was to both celebrate the work that was being done at the WCEF and also to encourage the audience to check out the events HCH would be involved in. In this way, Circular Stories ensured the tone, pace, and delivery of the message fitted with the inspirational goals for the videos, while offering valuable information about circularity in different industries.

Show don’t tell!

When it comes to circular communication, HCH follows a “show don’t tell” call to action strategy. It has been said countless times that the circular economy is a very complex topic that requires a great understanding of value chain systems, resources, or consumer behavior to only cite a few challenges. Despite the help offered by HCH and its partners, entrepreneurs might still feel overwhelmed and abandon their projects if they don’t see them as viable businesses. This is why HCH puts a great emphasis on showing the work that has already been done by international entrepreneurs, as well as the current projects which show great sustainable and financial potential. 

It also provides reports and publications about different circular topics in collaboration with international partners. This provides entrepreneurs with in-depth analysis, guidelines, and insights as to where sustainable problems emerge. In this way, entrepreneurs can verify which countries and industries are currently looking to reduce carbon emissions in the construction sector or set restrictions on plastic waste in manufacturing plants for instance. The idea is to show people where they should start venturing based on opportunities within their sector of expertise.

The HCH publications offer a great economic perspective to circular entrepreneurs
The HCH publications offer a great economic perspective to circular entrepreneurs

Prove the skeptics wrong!

This article only covers the surface of the work being done at HCH. By inspiring and being inspired by circular actors, the hotspot always finds new ways to show that the make/use/dispose culture is a thing of the past. The Netherlands’ promise to reach full circularity in less than 30 years might have sounded like another unachievable governmental objective a few years ago, but now that we can look back at all the projects that were jump-started thanks to Holland Circular Hotspot in less than 3 years, this promise might not sound so unrealistic after all. 

Our Vision.

Companies that do good have great stories!

Circular Stories is a full-service, eco-intelligent digital marketing and business development agency that cares for people and the planet. Wow that’s a mouth full! Yeah, we know, we are aiming for big IMPACT.

We help circular and sustainable companies, or companies who would like to become circular, to take the step into the spotlight through remarkable communications and strategy.

Based out of Amsterdam (main office), and Utrecht we help circular or sustainable visionaries/ entrepreneurs/ founders/ marketeers to grow their business.

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